One of the standard procedures of Japanese magical texts contains an interesting example of what might be called 'emotion-concentration'. A hungry dog (dogs are believed to have some special occult significance) is tied up within sight of food. The emotion of hunger is brought to a fine pitch by changing the meal for one more appetizing. When this feeling has been thus 'concentrated', the animal's head is chopped off. It is then thought to contain the essence of concentration. It is interesting to reflect two things: first, that for thousands of years man has practised fasting as a means to clear and sharpen the mind.
M^W^ * Chinese talisman to
M Jr attract money ('silver')
Those who have fasted regularly—whatever their motive—have invariably claimed that a sense of concentration of power does in fact result. This may be a reason for this particular rite. Alternatively, excluding the possibility that the process is merely sadistic, it does seem to reflect the theory (in India, among other places) that there is a force connected with the brain which is capable of being concentrated. Some people attempt its cultivation by prayer or incantation. Perhaps the Japanese think that it may be engendered and preserved by this method, combined with the severing of the animal's head.
Where else does this mysterious concentrated power occur? According to Japanese sources, in trees. Every tree has its spirit: which is a part of the life of that tree. What form the spirit or force takes, no one can tell. It is, however, impjjeitly believed that if a tree-spirit is disturbed by hammering a nail into his abode, he will seek revenge. When the actual sap has been reached by the nail, out comes the spirit. This is the magician's opportunity. Dressed in white, he repeats a request to the spirit to 'pursue and annoy so-and-so'— or whatever spell he happens to be exercising at the time. It has been said that the reason for dressing in white may be traced to a symbolic identification of the operator with the spirit's own kind. While this is quite possible, it may alternatively indicate a state of dedication on the magician's part, and the ritual purity which is supposed to be the state of all invocants, if they desire communion with the spirit world.
What are the main objects of Japanese magic? No different from those which we encounter in almost every magical ritual, wherever it may be. There are rites to propitiate hostile demons, to overcome the works of rival sorcerers (whether on one's own behalf or that of clients), charms and spells to excite love and hatred, to cure disease and procure children, to make fields fertile, to secure riches, revenge, invisibility and power.
Many of the processes can be placed in the category of 'sympathetic magic'. Typical of these is this one, for the restoration of virility:
A drawing is made on paper, portraying certain organs. Then the following are mixed together: vinegar, sake (rice-spirit), soya bean, oil, mixture for blackening the teeth, water and pith. The seven ingredients are boiled, and the picture added to them. When the whole lot has been boiling for some time, the desired result will be obtained. This charm is recommended for use by women who want their husbands to become more constant. Many other charms are in use, whereby the aid of Shoki—the demon-devouring spectre—is sought. Shoki, the Japanese version of the Chinese Chung-Khwei—intervenes in cases of demonaical possession, as well as to help people whom demons have rendered indifferent to their spouses.
The most powerful of all Japanese love charms is made from newts, burned and cindered. The cinders are powdered very finely, and divided into two portions. One is carried by the magician (generally a lovelorn swain) and the other may be secreted among the personal possessions of the beloved, or sprinkled in her hair.
The use of reptilian remains in love and hate magic is very widespread. In Central Europe, there was once a common belief that powdered and incinerated frogs' bones would act in a very similar manner. Whether the bones are used for love or hate, say the Arab sorcerers—whom we will allow to complete the picture here—depends upon whether they sink or swim when cast into water. If they sink, they are potent for hatred: if they float, they are used in love charms.
The currency of another type of love charm shows that the Japanese is not content with loving or being loved from afar. The object of one's affection may be drawn inexorably to one's presence:«and for this a special poem, "Waiting on Matsuo's Shore", is used.
The invocant may proceed in various ways. He may write half of the ode on a piece of paper, fixing it on the northern side of something. Why the northern side? This may be connected with the Hindu and other mana-akasa theses, which contend that the north is magnetically powerful, and that magnetism is not simply a physical phenomenon, but one manifestation of the mana, or thought-force by which all magic works.
To return to our lover: within three days of fixing the half-poem towards the north, the person desired is bound to come and seek him out. The spell is completed (and the beloved presumably 'bound') by writing the rest of the poem after her arrival. The lines are as follow:
"Waiting on Matsuo's Shore This quiet Evening. . . . For you who do not come, I burn with longing: Fierce as the fire of the salt-pans."
But there does seem to be a division of opinion upon the certainty of the beloved's arrival. This is best illustrated by the following variation, which not only invokes the lady (or gendeman, as the case may be) but informs the operator of his chances.
The verse is recited three times in succession, and in one breath. There are certain other requirements, too. The man or woman should go into a room which is not generally used, in the very early hours of the morning. The supplicant's sandals are removed and placed upside down in the room, and the door closed (92). Then the operator goes on to the veranda, placing his hand on his bosom. Closing his eyes, he repeats the words of the poem three times.
According to some writers, a voice will then be heard, telling him whether the desired one will come or not.
One notices here a reflection of several interesting beliefs which exist in Egypt and elsewhere, connected with the inverted slipper. It is believed that if a woman's slippers arc placed soles upwards in a room, she will quarrel with her husband.
The shoes may be pointing in any direction except the side of the house facing Mecca.
What is the significance of the slipper rite? There are two main possibilities. Both Arabs and Mongolians believe that footprints and feet in general have a special magical rapport with the individual. If this be so, then it would suggest that disturbing the Egyptian woman's slippers would upset her inner ('magical') personality. In the case of the Japanese form, the invocant indicates his or her disturbed state of mind by the symbolism of the shoes.
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